Reuse and economic activity

A study on the economic activity associated with reuse in Minnesota

PDF icon A Study of the Economic Activity of Minnesota's Reuse, Repair and Rental Sectors


Repair for reuse activity area at Eco ExperienceIn this unique study, researchers analyzed the contributions from the reuse industry on Minnesota’s economy. For the purpose of this study the reuse sector encompasses three activities:

  • used product sales,
  • rental of equipment that prevents the need for new equipment from being purchased, and
  • repair that prevents the need of a new purchase through the extension of the existing life of the product.

This study examines the economics associated with reuse by:

  • estimating the reuse sector’s employment numbers and financial impact
  • describing whether consumer spending on reuse activities result in more or less overall spending

Highlights

  • Minnesota’s reuse sector directly employs almost 46,000 employees and generates at least $4 billion in gross sales annually, about 1.6 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and employment base.
  • The 46,000 direct reuse jobs generate another 4,600 jobs in supporting industries.
  • Automotive-related industries dominate the reuse sector, representing three-quarters of sales and 60 percent of employees.
  • Reuse companies tend to be small and locally owned and operated, providing local jobs and increased capital retention.

Environmental benefits. What makes this study so unique is that it focused on economics instead of the environmental aspects of the industry. Reusing materials and products, salvaging and refurbishing materials, extending product life through repair, or renting reduces virgin-material demand and decreases solid waste. Waste reduction and reuse have the highest potential to save resources because both reduction and reuse avoid the “upstream” emissions or the waste that occurs before a consumer purchases a material or product. These “upstream” costs are almost always responsible for the majority of environmental impacts. Although this study did not look at the environmental benefits the agency does hope to capture this information, voluntarily, and report that in the future.